Anyone use DOS for modern things like internet surfing?

I got a new computer and I am thinking about running DOS on a dual boot situation, just because I am a big dweeb like that.

Does anyone use DOS for anything other than legacy software/games these days on the board? Wanna give me a few tips?

Here’s the biggest tip I can offer: no one that I know of still makes anti-virus for DOS.

I have a DOS machine too, but I wouldn’t expose it to the internet for all the liquor in Lynchburg.

FreeDOS is a modern, open-source operating system that’s distantly related to DOS itself. I’ve seen it used in a handful of places, basically niche applications where you need a bare minimum operating system without any bells and whistles at all whatsoever. Basically, it can provide a bootable skeleton for other applications. I’ve used a number of hardware diagnostics and recovery tools that are built on top of FreeDOS. Very useful when, say, your computer can’t boot up and you need to know why.

ETA: Some PC vendors also will install FreeDOS for their “no operating system” option. It’s not really there to be used as a real primary operating system, since the expectation is that whoever bought those machines will install their own OS like linux or a volume windows license.

Oh really? I prefer command line stuff, and since I already know DOS commands from back in the day I was thinking that it would be cool. But I don’t want to hose my Windows 7/Linux brand new still has the plastic wrapping on it with some goofy DOS internet browser.

I was thinking about doing things like surfing the internet and playing MP3s. I am guessing from Knead that doing this ins’t the brainiest thing to do.

Missed edit:

Even then I can’t really imagine using FreeDOS as an everyday operating system, unless you really enjoy the perversity of playing with a command line. But if that’s what you’re into, Linux is probably more interesting to play with.

yeah… I know I just don’t know any of those commands yet. Its debian, right?

Flip side of this: Not many people are actively developing or propagating viruses for DOS.

Why not set up DOSBox, see how you like it? If you still want to dual-boot, you can - but DOS is light enough that you needn’t dual-boot to get it running at full speed.

Thats not a bad idea, Mr. Excellent. Does DOS have any internet related issues that I need to be prepared for, for example, getting it connected via network, etc?

I don’t know, but I would expect it to be quite a pain. (I’ve never tried getting a DOS machine online myself.) The FreeDOS website, at, would probably be your best source of information for getting online.


No worries! Would you kindly come back and let us know how it goes? I’m kind of curious.

Sure. I have an HP Touchsmart, so its going to be fun trying to get DOS to play nice with all the wireless mouse/keyboard issues, touchscreen is probably a lost cause, and the fact that there aren’t any PS2 connections, just USB…

One more thing, is there at 64 bit verision of DOS so I can access all of my memory?

Getting DOS to load a network stack is a whole pile of pain (it has been that way since 1990, take it from someone who was there). You will be dealing with things like NDIS drivers for your network card, finding a compatible TCP stack, dealing with the memory management issues, and then finding a half decent browser that is better than Lynx (text only, ansi colour if you are lucky) to browse the internet with.

You will spend a lot of time making it work, for no benefit. Spend your time learning Linux - it will be more productive and useful.


I know that DOS will allow you to remap commands. I did this for myself a long time ago on one of my machines since I learned UNIX first and it was much faster.

Won’t Linux let you remap, as well?

This would make it even easier.

You are probably knackered right here - DOS does not support USB, unless the BIOS handles USB keyboard mapping.

DOS is, by definition, a 16-bit operating system. The only way to access memory beyond 1024kb is by using either extended or expanded memory, 64kb at a time.

If you want to play with FreeDOS, get VirtualBox installed on your current OS and find a downloadable FreeDOS virtual Machine. Then you can play, set up networking if you can, and figure out what you can and cannot do without risking your PC. You won’t have hardware issues, and it will just work better.


I can’t tell if you want this for some practical purpose or if you are just into retro-computing. I have a minor interest in the latter but I don’t spend a whole lot of time on it. You can surf the web on a circa 1982 Commodore 64 if you really want to. You can also surf the web on very old corporate Unix boxes. I have done both of those especially the Unix command line surfing when I worked at a famous company as a developer that had a strict web policy that was logged via the conventional channels. I even posted here many times from it. No casual observer could tell what I was doing.

As mentioned, the web “browser” Lynx can let you view text content from the web on all kinds of very old platforms but it isn’t always easy to configure. I wouldn’t have an actual dual-boot into DOS. That is overkill and a pain in general. Emulators should be good enough for that. If you want to get super-geeky, you can try to see how many emulators you can embed on top of one another and still surf the web in some form. You can do something like Windows - Linux emulator- DOS emulator - Lynx (Just an example). I have seen people get up to 7 layers or so of that type of thing and still get it to work.

Arachne is a popular graphical web browser for DOS. It’s a little bit better than Lynx, but, last I checked, it didn’t have javascript support. I’m pretty sure you could surf the Dope with it, at least.

(It’s pretty fast, too. I ran it on my old 486 less than five years ago.)

I agree that Virtualization is probably the best way to go. Trying to run DOS on a newer computer is hard. My crappy 1.8Ghz single-core 32-bit processor won’t even boot with it. Using Dosbox is probably the fastest to set up, but if you want the experience of having to install it on your computer like the old days, use Virtualbox.

Also, if all you want to do is use the old DOS commands, open a command prompt. With a little trial and error, you can still figure out how to run all your Windows programs from there, too.